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Traffic on Highway 401 in Toronto. (2012 file photo)

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

For the sixth year in a row, the Ontario government is raising the fee for renewing vehicle validation stickers.

As of Sept. 1, renewal stickers in southern Ontario will cost $120 for the year, up from $108 currently. In northern Ontario, the fee rises to $60 from $54.

While a $12 increase may not seem hefty, the renewal price has almost doubled since 2011.

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  • Sept. 1, 2011 - $74
  • Sept. 1, 2012 - $82
  • Sept. 1, 2013 - $90
  • Sept. 1, 2014 - $98
  • Sept. 1, 2015 - $108
  • Sept. 1, 2016 - $120

Defending the increase, the government says roads and bridges require more funds for maintenance.

"Gradual fee increases for driver and vehicle services are critical to help maintain the safe highway infrastructure that people and businesses rely on," says Bob Nichols, Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesperson, while noting that Ontario's roads are among the safest in North America. "These investments keep Ontario highways and bridges in good repair, reduce congestion, improve safety and promote the economy."

The money from sticker renewal fees goes into general revenues, which support all government investment, including transportation infrastructure.

"Many fees, including those for driver and vehicle licences, do not allow the government to fully recover the cost of delivering services or products," says Nichols. "These increases will help the government recover more of these costs."

Ontario has been increasing highway infrastructure spending since 2003. The province spent $1.03-billion in 2003/2004, $1.46-billion in 2006/2007, and $2.7-billion for 2016/2017.

From 1997 until 2012 the sticker renewal fees were constant at $74 for southern Ontario, $37 for northern Ontario.

Nichols says the cost to provide driver and vehicle services in 2015/2016 was about $2-billion, and the fee increases over the years will help recover these costs.

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Ontario has about 11.7 million vehicles registered, of which 7.9 million weigh less than 4,500 kilograms. This means the increase will generate more than $140-million.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have public insurance and the annual fee is included in an insurance fee.

Nova Scotia rates are the same as last year at $143.30 for a two-year renewal on a vehicle that weighs less than 1,000 kilograms. The price for a vehicle weighing between 1,000 and 1,500 kilograms is $176.90. For reference a Honda Civic weighs about 1,200 kilograms. In P.E.I., rates also didn't jump staying at $100 for the annual registration fee. In New Brunswick, the fee went up $4 to $61 for a vehicle weighing less than 1,000 kilograms. The price goes up every 200 kilograms. The price jumped in Alberta to $84.85 from $75.

The Ontario government says the fees will remain fixed until September of 2018. Premier Kathleen Wynne has confirmed that the next election will be held in the spring of 2018.

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